Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm not getting it

I've been thinking about all the stuff we do in this society that's supposed to make us safer. We waterboard people, we forbid shampoo on airplanes, and make people show photo ID to get into office buildings, but we're still deathly afraid of terrorism. We make sexual offenders register online, ban them from using the Internet and forbid them from living, working, socializing or driving with X feet of playgrounds, schools and bus stops, but we're still worried about the safety of children. People move to the furthest reaches of suburbia and buy guns until there are as many firearms as people, yet they still won't let their kids walk to school.

If you ask me (Yeah, I know you didn't. Shut up.), the real problem is not the threat of terrorism, child molesters and crime, but the fear of those threats. It's one thing to make sure nobody's bringing handguns onto airplanes, and quite another to start torturing people who might or might not know anything about a terrorist plot of which we have only vague information. The former is appropriate prudence; the latter, a prime example of a nation so consumed by fear that it's lost its moral compass.

Fear's a tough thing, and like everyone I've had to grapple with it. There are times, particularly in this last year, when I want to take the people I care about and lock us all in an impenetrable container where no one ever dies. That's no way to live, though. If chancing the terrorist means I won't have to show my passport to get into a damned office building, or that I won't need to surrender my habeas corpus rights, then I say it's a deal. The terrorist can only kill me once; from fear I can die a thousand deaths.

New favorite lyric:

"It's hard not to think about you
To keep you off my mind
It's hard to live in a world without you
And it's getting harder, it's getting harder
It's getting harder all the time"

Artist: The Mindbenders (Charles Albertine/Ben Raleigh)
Song: It's Getting Harder All The Time
Album: Soundtrack of "To Sir With Love"

Friday, December 21, 2007

Well, not saw but SAW

This has got to be the funniest thing in politics since Bob Allen and his "stocky black man" routine. Mitt Romney really put his foot in it when he said he saw his father marching with Martin Luther King. Turns out that the elder Romney never appeared with King, but that Mitt "saw" him anyway. Here's the money quote:

"If you look at the literature, if you look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of in the sense I've described," Romney told reporters in Iowa. "It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort."

Ah. Well. That's a mistake that any slimy, flip-flopping political snake would make. However, to make this even funnier, check out what has to say about it:

"...this incident could be easily understood by Romney's supporters, but it only strengthens the positions of those who do not have confidence in the veracity of certain of Mr. Romney's statements."

Man, you can't make up this stuff.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And you thought we just inserted commas!

Just when you thought that copyeditors couldn't fight crime, the good folks at the Lewiston Tribune proved that greatness can indeed come even from the ink-stained hands of those of us paid to nitpick.

In other news, I got to see most of a gay boy's butt today, and totally without being unfaithful to Dan. Somebody needs to tell the guy running the organic stand at the market that low-rise jeans plus short T-shirt plus bending over really far leads to a generous glimpse of the great divide. He was cute enough so I am not complaining, mind you, but if I were him I'd either wear fuller-waisted trousers or else get some spackle.

New favorite lyric:

"Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
Feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I could have done
But clouds got in my way."

Artist: Joni Mitchell (Joni Mitchell)
Song: Both Sides Now
Album: Clouds

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I don't often admire New Jersey, but...

...they've earned a high-five today. Buh-bye, death penalty.

Obviously, state Republicans are in a tizzy over this:

"Sparing the lives of brutal murderers only a week before Christmas will leave a hole in the hearts of surviving family members that will never heal."

Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce

You're right, Alex; Christmas isn't a time for mercy. It's a time for death!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm sorry

I’ve always felt that saying I’m sorry is kind of cheap and inadequate. It’s what you say when you spill a glass of root beer or accidentally give away the ending to a book your friend is reading. Although you regret what happened, you know there’s nothing you can do about it, and so the words always seemed to me really meaningless. A year ago today, however, those words took on new substance when Star C. Foster passed away, suddenly and shockingly, of a pulmonary embolism. I'm sorry about that too, and there’s not a damned thing I can do about it, and I feel more regret than words can say. So I’ll say those words to her, because I am sure that, wherever she is, she’s found a way to get Internet access.

I’m sorry that when you first complained of leg pain I didn’t know anything about blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. If I had, I’d have bundled you into my tired old Corolla and taken you straight to the ER.

I’m sorry that when I got to the hospital that morning all I could do was tremble and clutch Dan’s coat, and that when it came time to face your parents, I could only leave him to say the right thing.

I’m sorry that I didn’t have the power to restore life, and still don’t. Thousands of pages of fiction tell me that using such power never has a good result, but that day I would have used it in a minute. A stone-cold minute.

I’m sorry that when I saw you on Friday I didn’t know that the following Thursday we’d be standing around your coffin. If I had, I wouldn’t have let you leave, or I would have followed you home.

I’m sorry that I couldn’t muster the resolve to say a few words at your funeral. Once again, it was up to Dan.

I’m sorry that I used to regard euphemisms like “passed away” as a pathetic attempt to deflect reality. The reality was that I knew jack about death and how hard it was to name, much less to accept.

I’m sorry that I no longer reach for my phone to invite you for dinner when Dan and I have prepared too much food. That’s called, “getting on with life”, and I’m sorry it’s so cruel.

I’m sorry that Halloween is not for me quite the party holiday it once was. Your absence from it has changed things.

I’m sorry that I now know that wisdom is sometimes bitter to receive.

I’m sorry that I resent the person now living in your old apartment. He/she has done nothing to deserve it except be there when I want someone to blame for your not being there.

I’m sorry that when I see your number, still in my phone, I am reminded that even if I press the green button you’ll never receive the call. I don’t delete the entry, though; it’s a false hope I can’t live without.

I’m sorry that I didn’t hear your laugh at my stand-up debut, which I would have picked out easily from all the others. It was a terrifying thing for me to try but I think you would have approved.

I’m sorry I never appreciated the joy of walking around a city taking pictures until it was too late to share it with you.

I’m sorry that it took your passing to make me realize how disconnected I was from my emotions, and how ashamed I was of feeling. I can’t change the past any more than I can bring back the dead, but I have the power to carry the lessons I've learned this past year into the future, a future I get to have, and to feel, and to live.

And about that, I’m not sorry.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm always ready... answer questions about chocolate. The other day Dan came into the bathroom whilst I was showering to ask, "Do you like your hot chocolate with or without whipped cream?" Being wet and naked did not cloud my judgment for an instant, and without pause I cracked back, "With." (Some would say that being wet and naked improves my performance in all ways.) The hot chocolate did not arrive during the shower, if you were wondering, nor did I consume it naked or wet. Well, the hot chocolate was wet, but I wasn't. You know.

New favorite lyric:

"It's a small town life but I like it
'Cause the bad don't get in your way
There's an angry God gonna strike it
Yeah that's what we pay him for, that's why we pray."

Artist: Dar Williams (Dar Williams)
Song: Flinty Kind of Woman
Album: The Honesty Room